30 April 2012 – another cracking herping day
We had arranged more outings today and we packed up and booked out of Kildare Cottages early and made our way across to Greytown where we had arranged to meet up with James Harvey again. James took us on to some foresty property which, once again, involved negotiating some interesting roads in our hire car! Our first find was a Yellow-throated Plated Lizard, but, once again, we could see that it was not the best time of the year for herping. It was extremely quiet and a lot of rock turning turned up very little. Over a few hours, the returns were extremely low and we were just about to call it a day when James found an Olive Ground Snake, quite different looking to the ones we are used to in the Cape. And the very next rock he turned over had a Rhombic Night Adder under it! We were locked into a false sense of security and started turning more rocks only to be disappointed again.
It was as we were about to leave that Margaret realized that she had lost the car keys!! Given the rocky grasslands that we were in, I had visions of having to phone Avis and telling them this and asking them to bring us another set of keys which would’ve meant they would also need to drive those roads to get to us! No, we would have to start looking for the keys. We retraced our steps and, hugely surprisingly, Margaret actually managed to find them, so all was well…:)
With keys safely in hand, we headed off to another forestry site where we began investigating again. A few really colourful Common River Frogs were nice to find, but the highlight was finding a single Transvaal Girdled Lizard, a new species for us.
It was starting to get late, so we bid farewell to James and started the long drive back to Durban where we would be spending the evening in Umhlanga at the Road Lodge and doing some night work with Tyrone again. We arrived and were booked into our hotel by just after 5pm before heading out for a quick bite to eat.
Tyrone picked us up a little later outside our hotel and we headed out into the sugar cane fields beyond Umhlanga. Driving slowly along the road, we soon found a Kwazulu Dwarf Chameleon and then a Striped Stream Frog in quick succession.
A stop at a small pond seemed quiet at first, but eventually turned up 2 new frogs for us, Natal Leaf-folding Frog and Sharp-nosed Grass Frog, so the night was already proving to be a success!
We then moved to another forested hillside where there were some exposed rock faces where we were able to find Moreau’s Tropical House Gecko and Pondo Flat Gecko as well as some rather creepy looking Whip Scorpions. There were also a number of Egyptian Fruit Bats in the area that were echo-locating and, eventually, we managed to get visuals on a couple of them although photographing them was impossible! A Brown House Snake crossing the road close to this site was also a nice find.
Our next stop was at a office park in town which had a few ponds and we spent the next hour or two frogging in the area. What an amazing place which produced a number of species, some of them new for us. We managed to find Common Platanna, Guttural Toad, Painted and Tinker Reed Frogs, Snoring Puddle Frog, Greater Leaf-folding Frog and Water Lily Frog. Even at this time of the year when it was supposedly quite frogwise, this place was still incredible and we really enjoyed this little visit. Eventually, it was time to call it a night and we bid farewell to Tyrone more than satisfied with the evening’s haul.